Which Small Pistol? Ruger LCP vs Glock 42 vs Ruger LCP Max

When looking for a concealable pistol, there are a lot of very good choices on the market. And there are some not-so-good choices as well (I’m looking at you SCCY). Lately, my everyday carry (EDC) has been a Glock 43X or a Sig Sauer P365. Both are great guns, but there are days when I want something smaller. Usually, it’s either because of how I’m dressed or just because I want to be more comfortable. I decided to compare 3 guns I’ve used in this role: the Ruger LCP Max, the Glock 42, and the Ruger LCP. Here is how they compare.

Where Do They Fit

Guns like these have a niche. If I were going to search a building for an active shooter, none of these would make it into my top 10 choices. But I have carried each of them on occasions where I was dressed more formally. I’ve also thrown one of these in an ankle holster for a long road trip because they’re comfortable and it’s easy to access while I’m seated in the car. I’ve used the LCP as a backup gun too, Sometimes, I pick one of these when I am traveling with my wife so that I can fit 2 guns in the TSA-required locked, hard-side case. They’re sometimes referred to as “pocket guns”, but I am not a fan of pocket carry.

Size Comparison

First, let’s look at the sizes. All 3 of these are tiny guns. They are designed to be as concealable as possible while still giving the owner a means to effectively protect themselves. As you can see, all 3 are fairly close in size. The LCP, the OG of this trio, is the smallest and the Glock 42 is the “biggest”. The LCP Max is the newest of the 3 designs and fits in the middle of them.

MetricRuger LCPGlock 42Ruger LCP Max
Overall Length- inches5.165.945.22
Barrel length- inches2.753.252.8
Width- inches0.820.940.97
Height- inches3.94.134.12
Weight- ounces9.613.7610.6
Capacity6610 (12 round available)

Mechanics

None of these guns have a manual safety.

In terms of operation, the three all have different actions. The LCP is a hammer-fired, double-action-only (DAO) pistol and relies on a very long trigger pull. The Glock 42 is a striker-fired pistol that relies on Glock’s internal safeties and a trigger safety. The LCP Max is a hammer-fired, single-action only (SAO) design that also uses a trigger safety. All 3 guns have a slide stop and a magazine release button in the traditional locations. The LCP Max and the Glock 42 have a magazine release that is reversible for left-handed use.

Sights

The LCP is equipped with barely usable “iron sights”. In reality, it’s a notch in the rear of the slide and a bump at the end that passes as a front sight. This gun is designed for close distances, not target shooting competition. It can, however, be used efficiently with practice. (Some models made for specific distributors have better sights.)

Ruger LCP sights

The Glock 42 has…well, Glock sights. The standard Dot in a Box sight that Glock puts on pretty much every base model. Nothing exciting, but very usable and easy to see.

Glock 42 rear sights

The Ruger LCP Max shakes it up. The LCP Max has a green tritium dot on the front sight and a serrated, blacked-out rear sight. The sights are very easy to see. The steel rear sight even has enough surface that I could rack the slide off my belt if I needed to operate the pistol one-handed.

Triggers

As mentioned earlier, the stock LCP has a very long, DAO trigger. Calling it long may be an understatement. The trigger usually broke at around the 6-pound mark. The gun can be very accurate at 5-7 yards, but the shooter has to be intentional with the trigger to do it. The reset on the LCP trigger is very long. It does throw a curveball though. There is an audible click a short distance into the reset. This is not the reset and pulling the trigger at the point does nothing. The 2nd click is the actual reset and it nearly all the way back out.

The Glock 42, as expected, had a standard Glock trigger. It breaks consistently between 5 and 5.5 pounds. It has a reasonable length of take-up and a decent break. There is a nice, short reset on the trigger that is both audible and tactile. If you’ve shot any stock Glock trigger, you know what this one feels like. Learn more about the G42 here.

The LCP Max broke consistently around 4.5 pounds. It has a long travel to get to the wall but breaks pretty clean. The reset is audible and tactile. The reset distance is about the same as the Glock.

Capacity

Both the LCP and the G42 come with single-stack, 6-round magazines. The standard LCP magazine is metal with a pinky extension or a flat floor plate on it. The Glock mag is a polymer and gives you the option of a flat floor plate or pinky extension.

The Ruger LCP Max comes with 10 round metal magazines, with your choice of flat floor plates for maximum concealability or a pinky extension for better grip. I almost exclusively use Ruger-branded 12-round magazines when I carry the LCP Max. It adds almost no extra length but allows 2 more shots.

Shooting the Mouse Guns

Shooting these guns is 3 different experiences. I shot Magtech 95-grain FMJ ammo for all 3 guns.

The Ruger LCP

Ruger LCP

Shooting the Ruger LCP accurately can be done, but it does require attention. The very long trigger pull is constant, but it requires consistency from the shooter. It’s very easy to try to rush and end up jerking the shot, usually low. The recoil is snappy because the gun is so small, and the actual amount of grip surface is not that big. I have pretty normal-sized hands and even with the pinky extension, I only have 3 fingers on the gun. The sights are really just a suggestion. This gun is made for “get off me” distances. Up close, it will often be more a matter of point shooting than sighted shooting.

One thing to note: The LCP does not lock the slide open on the last round. That means when you run dry, you may not realize it until you try to shoot. It also adds a little more motion to reloading. The wrinkle here is that an experienced shooter can run the gun fairly well, but this gun finds itself in the hands of inexperienced shooters far more often.

The Glock 42

The Glock 42 is a different experience. The standard Glock trigger isn’t amazing, but it is consistent and not too long. The reset is short as well. The grip allows me to put all 4 fingers on, but just barely. The texture of the grip is ok. Not very aggressive but not smooth either. The stock sights are fine and easy to see and use. The G42 can be a pretty accurate little pistol. I was able to shoot pretty tight groups with it easily. It is the smallest pistol Glock makes, but still bigger than the other two. The bigger grip surface does allow for a better hold, making recoil management easier. Overall, it’s a pretty shootable gun for a small package.

The Ruger LCP Max

Ruger LCP Max

The LCP Max has the best sights of the 3 pistols. It also is the only one with front slide serrations. One nice little feature on the slide are little “ears” on the rear of the slide to make it easier to grab while working the slide. This feature, similar to the ones found on the Springfield Armory Echelon, is handy on any gun. But for a gun this size it really helps. The smaller slide has less grip area to work with, so this makes your task a little easier. I can get 4 fingers on the gun with the pinky extension or 12-round mag.

I would also argue that the LCP Max has the best trigger of the 3. It does have a lot of travel before it gets to the wall, but the break is cleaner than the Glock trigger. The reset, however, is just as short as the Glock reset.

The Verdict

Ruger LCP Max, Glock 42 and Ruger LCP

Of the 3, the LCP Max performed the best for me. I was able to shoot it fast and accurately. The additional ammo capacity is also a considerable plus. Currently, when I carry this pistol, it rides in a DeSantis Slim-Tuk holster. The gun is very concealable and has functioned flawlessly the whole time I’ve owned it. I’ve been using Speer 90-grain Gold Dot ammo with it.

At this point, I’d have to say the Glock 42 is going to be the second choice. Despite being bigger than the LCP and LCP Max, it is a very flat gun and just a tiny bit narrower than the Max. I may carry it on a dressy occasion. I’m experimenting with some holsters for it and haven’t settled on a favorite yet. So far, I’ve used mostly 85-grain Winchester Silver Tip ammo for carry purposes.

My long-time backup gun companion, the Ruger LCP, has slid to third. I’m still confident in my ability to load it up with 90-grain Federal Hydra Shok ammo and protect myself, but it simply isn’t coming out of the safe as much. Still, if I wanted a super small gun for a bike ride, run, or even a stroll around the neighborhood, this is a viable choice. (And no, I haven’t taken up cycling or running. But if I did, the LCP would be the ticket)

This is just my opinion, based on a sample size of one. You may love how one of these guns feels and shoot it well. We always encourage students to try different guns and make informed choices based on what works for them in the context of their lives. If you’d like us to help you make some selections or recommendations, just reach out to us. We’d be happy to help.

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